On Saturday 10th Mar, 2018 I will be talking briefly at Tal Fitzpatrick's PhD exhibition 'Craftivism HQ', being held at Kings Artist-Run, Level 1, 171 King Street, Melbourne between 1.30 - 2.30pm. Along with other artists who took part in the United Declaration of Human Rights Quilt Project in 2017, I will be talking about my experience of being involved and what my hopes for the project are in the future. For more information go to www.kingsartistrun.org.au or www.talfitzpatrick.com/latest-news.
After my last two solo exhibitions in Melbourne (May - June 2017) I noticed an Instagram post by Tal requesting artists to join a craftivism project where they were invited to embroider one of the articles from the United Declaration of Human Rights, written in 1948. At the time I was researching Indigo cloth and it's connection to the Trans-atlantic Slave Trade and when I saw Article 4: Ban on Slavery I was committed. This took me on an intense journey as I began to research Australia's Slave History and I chose to focus my quilt block on the Blackbirding Slave Trade where south pacific islanders were traded and kidnapped to work on the Queensland sugar and cotton plantations between 1843 - 1908.
This research opened my eyes to the horrors of this practice in Australia and beyond. I felt shocked, angry and ashamed that I did not know about this history in my own country. Since then I have been on a journey to learn more about the truth of the past as well as its impact on the present. As a psychologist and psychoanalytic psychotherapist as well as an artist, it seems clear to me that without the truth being faced and shared, true recognition and community cohesion is impossible.
Since the project finished I have been to Sydney and met with the President of the Australian South Sea Islanders, Emelda Davis and other descendents as just reading about these issues began to feel too distant. This has had a profound impact on my sense of what it means to be Australian. It has left me feeling sad yet very motivated to learn and share what I learn with others. I have felt deeply moved by Emelda and Aunty Shireen Malaboo talking about the tragic loss of life in prisons, the high crime rates in their communities and the ongoing underlying trauma at the root of it all within Australian South Sea Islander and Indigenous communities. This has had a profound impact on my art practice where a large part of my personal work is now focused on learning about our past, facing the fact that I lack knowledge because I grew up in a very 'white anglo-saxon' rural town in central Victoria and opening up to the stories that need to be heard. I think it is all about listening.
So if you are free and wish to open your mind and heart to some human rights issues around the world, please come along to this amazing exhibition from a dedicated artist and scholar who has inspired me and others to think, grow and learn. And listen....